Editor’s Note: Suzann Schroepfer has 30 years of experience helping companies drive innovation and successful transformation. She has assisted hundreds of companies, from Fortune 100-1000, in building and ensuring partnership success for established, large global organizations as well as startups. Currently, Schroepfer is an Industry Sales Executive in enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), human capital management (HCM), and a Global Payroll Consultant, and serves as an Executive Advisor for global digital transformations. Her goal is to ensure customer success in driving change, especially through the adoption of technology as an enabler toward long-term goals. Her decades of experience as an HR/global payroll consultant includes driving business transformations and partnering to solve complex business challenges that deliver competitive differentiation. Schroepfer is originally from California and currently lives in northern New Jersey.
What are options for companies to manage their global payroll operations?
In my mind, there are three options for companies to manage their global payroll operations:
1. All in-house—This requires legal compliance and expertise internally.
2. Decentralized systems/operations—This could be a combination of outsourced for “tail” countries (those with less than 1,000 employees) and in-house management for larger countries.
3. Fully outsourced—A combination of a global payroll consolidator or multiple in-country payroll providers.
The biggest challenge I see with my customers is getting them to first “know thyself.” This is significant in gaining agreement from disparate teams across the globe to determine the best go-forward strategy.
What are your go-to strategic choices for risk management and compliance?
Regardless of what option one selects from the three provided above, having a global HCM system that will serve as the single source of truth (SSOT) is most important. This is significant in terms of compliance, efficiency, and deployment of global payroll.
How do you leverage payroll data insight in strategic decision making?
It’s crucial to have a single data warehouse for analytics, consolidation, and reporting purposes. In today’s environment of the “great resignation,” companies need to focus on the “great retention.” Possessing, or creating, a global database that allows for training, skill matching, and provides learning opportunities for employees to grow is a necessity. It is especially important for companies to be empathetic and listen to their employees. Employees hunger for different and better opportunities, and a global system that offers an easy way to search short-term internal gigs, opportunities to volunteer, to mentor, or to find a mentor within the organization all help with the “great retention.”
Given the “great resignation,” how do you see payroll trends in digital security and mobile employees shaping the future?
What we have learned through the ever-changing world of business over the last two years is that we can trust employees to work from anywhere and remain very productive. Work-life balance has never been more meaningful and imperative. Companies need to listen, react, and empathize now more than ever. Agility and empathy are key for every company regardless of size.
Clearly, staying on top of trends in legislation and payroll is difficult. What resources do you use?
Of course, GPMI and the American Payroll Association (APA) are my go-to resources. However, the best resources I can count on are my 30 years in the industry and the many personal contacts with practitioners across the globe who are always there for me, and vice-versa.
Vendor selection is crucial to maintain workflows. What are your top tips for determining if a vendor is a right fit?
Depth and breadth of their experience. There are several additional things I look for:
Do they invest in continuous innovation or do they simply rest on their laurels, choosing name recognition while sacrificing service? Do they listen? Are they true partners invested in the success of your transformation by challenging your assumptions, workflows, and processes, while providing guidance and thought-provoking questions and scenarios?
The most important part of any transformation is first-and-foremost, “knowing thyself.” An organization must understand their own internal goals and strategies to plan accordingly. Do not go into any review with preconceived ideas of the vendor you “think” you want. Keep an open mind and truly give each vendor equal opportunity to identify themselves as a best fit for your organization by thoroughly conducting discovery sessions with all business units affected, rather than relying on what you “hear” may be the right fit. This cannot be understated.
I find many customers who think the shiny new penny is the right solution for whatever reason. Those customers go into an evaluation process with vendors they “feel” are the right partner, rather than listening to every vendor to determine the true best fit for their specific needs. Do your pre-homework, of course, but when you go through the vendor selection process, enter it with an open mind. Be fully transparent. Be fully engaged and communicate openly. Remember, this is all about finding the best solution for your organization
There is no “one-size fits all” vendor. Every organization is unique and complex; workflows and processes vary. Be open and transparent. Organizations must engage the folks from across the globe in the process—every process, be it HR, payroll, IT, shared services—if applicable—and most importantly, finance. By doing this, you not only ensure that vendor selection is collaborative, but more importantly, you ensure a successful transformation that aligns with the organizational goals.
Creative thinking and top-down decision-making pay off at home as well as the office. How do you apply “work-thinking” to home? And does your home life inspire you in the office?
This is easy to answer: It all comes down to communication. I have a reputation as a collaborative, resourceful, out-of-the-box-thinker, a fully transparent modus operandi, and an innovative leader. I strive for open communication based on a foundation of trust and collaboration, both with my clients and on a personal level. In the end, this provides a solid foundation that leaves little to no room for surprises. I pride myself on consistency and transparency. My clients know I always start conversations with, “I don’t like surprises.”
I have been recognized by my peers and clients alike for this “challenging and refreshing approach.” There are, of course, some surprises I appreciate in my personal life—spontaneity brings joy—just not when it comes to solutions I recommend for my customers and their overall successful transformation. Full transparency is the goal I ultimately strive toward.
We are a product of the various spheres we touch each day; what is on your reading list?
I am currently reading “Give and Take” by Adam Grant. I did not realize how I act in my personal and professional life was in a book. It is one of those profound “feel seen” things. I feel I could have written it.
I am a consummate “giver!” This is a personality trait that has served me very well in all areas of my life—especially professionally. My goal for customers is to help them find the best solution, even if that means walking away if my solution is not the best fit. I have been known to guide a customer to a solution that would serve their needs better than mine. My goal is not to “sell” but to listen, guide, and advise, so we can arrive at an understanding. In the end, I provide the right solution that ultimately leads to a successful digital transformation for my customers. One that enables them to achieve their goals and mine, which is a happy customer I can reference later. It is an incredibly satisfying achievement and why I love the challenges of my chosen profession.
While it is possible to capitalize on the interplay of work/home dynamics, how do you de-stress and find a moment to let the combined pressures go?
I had a double knee replacement a year and a half ago. My partner Fred and I work out together six days a week, with the aim at increasing my flexibility and our overall strength. This gives us time to talk on the way to the gym, share in the progress of our growing physical strength, and to meditate together once we get back home. We do all of this in a window of time before our meetings for the day get started. This has truly been “life-changing” for us in terms of managing the stressors of everyday life. With our combined five “kidults,” we get our share of challenges with what life throws at us daily. I challenge myself to learn something new every day, and I strive to live my life with gratitude.